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Enlightenment's FrontierThe Scottish Highlands and the Origins of Environmentalism$
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Fredrik Albritton Jonsson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300162547

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300162547.001.0001

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Overpopulation and Extirpation

Overpopulation and Extirpation

(p.188) 8 Overpopulation and Extirpation
Enlightenment's Frontier

Fredrik Albritton Jonsson

Yale University Press

This chapter presents the story of the “colony of goats” that was introduced to the small island of Juan Fernandez in the eastern Pacific during the early phase of the Spanish expansion. As told by the Reverend Joseph Townsend, the story appeared in A Dissertation on the Poor Laws, a tract on political economy. It begins with the theme of natural history and then shifts to political economy; it is not to be compared to the usual story that often had the goal of providing readers tales for entertainment. The material basis of the story's natural economy—the “quantity of food” available—also regulated the number of the human species in every nation. Furthermore, the pressures brought by animal instincts—high rates of procreation and ruthless competition for resources—were the same for human populations. Worst afflicted of all British regions were the Highlands of Scotland.

Keywords:   colony of goats, Juan Fernandez, Spanish expansion, Reverend Joseph Townsend, natural history, political economy, natural economy, animal instincts, Highlands of Scotland

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